Sexuality Policy Watch

Sexual politics in June 2018


Main global trends 

ICD Reform – On June 18, the Working Group set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) released the final version of the International Classification Diseases 11 (ICD 11). These parameters have been under review since 2011 and the outcome of this long process means an important victory for transnational trans rights activism. ICD reform has eliminated the classification of transgender identities as a mental disorder. We share the preliminary assessment of this outcome issued by GATE and the coalition for the ICD Reform.

Nicaragua –  SPW continues to call attention to the crisis and violence in Nicaragua, recalling that the authoritarian features of the Ortega regime began manifesting many years ago against dissident voices, including feminists. Since May, the number of deaths has risen to 300 people and atrocities continue. We have updated our compilation on the crisis noting that positively enough left-wing media expanded its coverage of the crisis.

Sex workers rights – June 2nd is the International Sex Workers Rights Day. This year the date was used to protest and resist draconian laws against sex work that have been adopted in recent years. In the US, one key focus of attention is FOSTA the new law that amongst other detrimental effects, led to the cancellation of the Sex Workers International Conference planned for 2019.

In the New York area, sex workers’ organizations, inspired by their Brazilian comrades, who name the date Puta Dei, are now calling June 2nd the International Whores Day of Action. Check here for information on rallies, events and media reports on the US. In Brazil itself, Puta Dei events have been organized in Rio, Belem, Manaus, Porto Alegre and Campinas. The exhibition What you do not see was shown and debated at the Institute of Philosophy, Human and Social Sciences of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In Europe, as reported by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe, events have been organized in Austria, and France. Macedonia, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Lastly, few good news in relation to legal debates. In the US, the constitutionality of FOSTA was contested in a lawsuit filed on behalf of individual sex workers, Human Rights Watch, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation and the Internet Archive. The new law has also been contested by the English Collective of Prostitutes who could now face their own version of the laws. In Barcelona, on June 29, the Municipal Council voted against a proposition tabled by the Socialist Party of Catalunya that, in the name of the fight against trafficking,  intended to fine clients and eradicate prostitution, through rehabilitation schemes (read in Spanish).

Abortion rights

On June 14, the Argentinean House of Representatives approved a law provision that authorizes the right to abortion on request until the 14th week of pregnancy. The final approval of the law is still pending a Senate voting scheduled for August 4th. This breakthrough was a major victory for Argentinean and Latin American feminisms more widely. It is the result of relentless feminist work since the early days of democratization in the early 1980s that expanded and intensified after 2005 when the Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion was created. SPW would like to thank Malu Moreno, Mario Pecheny, and Maximiliano Campana for their comments on the voting and what may come next. We also recommend the interview (in Spanish) of Marta Alanis, one of the coordinators of the Campaign to Pagina 12.

In Brazil, the litigation on the constitutionality of existing criminal laws argued by ADPF 442/2017 in March 2017  made a step forward. Fifty specialists and representatives of relevant institutions have been selected to present their views in favor and against the petition in a public hearing called by the Supreme Court Court (STF), whose dates have been set for August 3 and 6, 2018.  The list includes a number of Brazilian feminists and pro-abortion voices,  international specialists — such as  Anand Grover, Rebecca Cook, and Françoise Girard — the voices of practically all Brazilian religious communities. Fábio Grotz and Sonia Corrêa report on the conditions presiding over the preparation for this groundbreaking moment.

Finally, as this announcement was being finalized, the US press informed that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the moderate voice that historically supported abortion and LGBT rights will retire, opening the space for the Trump administration to nominate a conservative judge to the Supreme Court. Check a compilation of news on this shift that we can predict will negatively affect US domestic and international policies on sexual politics.

Anti-gender trends – Politics of religious conservatism

In Colombia, Ivan Duque, the candidate supported by former president Uribe defeated leftist candidate Gustavo Petro (read about it in The Nation). This result opens the way for conservative religious and secular forces — which mobilized against “gender ideology” during the campaign for the 2016 Peace Agreement Referendum — to gain space in the state apparatus.  SPW invited Franklin Gil Hernandez and Sandra Mazo Cardona to share their critical views on the electoral process and how it will impact the country´s gender and sexual politics.

Open Democracy reported on how, in El Salvador,  Evangelic groups contribute to keeping in place the draconian restrictions on women’s reproductive autonomy.

In the US, the website Rewire published an insightful analysis that shows how the outrageous US immigration law, which drastically separates young children from their families,  is influenced by religious tenets extracted from the Bible.

The intervention made by Sonia Corrêa on ‘Gender Ideology: tracking its origins and meanings in current gender politics’ at the International Colloquium Gênero Ameaça (n)do held at the Rio de Janeiro State University is now available with English subtitles. Click the settings icon to activate it.


On June 28th the annual cycle of LGBTT events that begins on May 17th  reaches its end and SPW shares a collection of photos of pride parades published by Newsweek as well as the special issue on LGBTT rights published by El País that, though in Spanish,  provides an informative overview of celebrations while at the same time looking into obstacles, and SPW’s own compilation of marginal accounts of this celebrations.

At the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, trans advocacy week in the United Nations was held comprising a number of events and a consultation with the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

In Japan, primary and secondary schools are changing the strict dress code of students’ uniforms in order to allow students to dress as they like. This new policy is to be seen as a breakthrough in a culture characterized by pervasive and deeply rooted heterosexual gender norms.

Women’s rights

A new PSOE government began in Spain led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez counts in its cabinet with eleven women and two gay men. Check a compilation of the names of the cabinet and potential political meanings of this major shift.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and The Intercept published groundbreaking reports on the Venezuela crisis that also captured the systematic violation of the sexual and reproductive rights of women.

While the right to drive recently conceded to women in Saudi Arabia is appraised worldwide, an article published in Vice reminds us that the decision has overshadowed the arrest of the very activists who fought for this right to be granted.


The #MeToo trail has now reached the Alan Guttmacher Institute leading to the exoneration of its vice president. The organization recognized the misconduct and made explicit disciplinary measures taken in a public statement.

Sexuality & Art

Because it is LGBT month, we bring back Virginia Medeiros’ work Studio Butterfly with travestis in Brazil.

And, in honor of Puta Dei, we also promote the work from the exhibition What you don’t see: prostitution through our own eyes.

We recommend

Papers and articles

Who’s Afraid of Judith Butler?: The Moral Crusade against Human Rights in Brazil – Cadernos Pagu

Examining Feminist Fault Lines:  Criminalization – Resurj

Intersex rights activists challenge the roots of gender oppression – and we must support them – openDemocracy

People with mental illnesses who are incarcerated face a near-total denial of their sexual rights – Point of View

Restricting abortion access is class warfare – Broadly

How the Catholic Church—and the GOP—Came to See Birth Control as Evil – Broadly

Publications and Resources

Meaningful Involvement with Sex Workers – Network for Sex Workers Project

Unconscionable: When providers deny abortion care – IWHC and MYSU

The Legal Gender Recognition in the Philippines: A Legal and Policy Review – UNDP

Power and Protection: Defending Rights in Hostile Contexts – The Fund for Global Human Rights and JASS


Sonia Corrêa’s speech at Gender Threat(ened) conference – SPW

Fragments: an Intersexual experience – Adiós al futuro


Equal Eyes on our world

June 28, 2018

June 4, 2018

International Campaign for Women’s Rights to Safe Abortion

2 July 2018–8 July 2018
25 June 2018–1 July 2018
18 June 2018–24 June 2018
11 June 2018–17 June 2018

Check it out!

OutRight Advocacy Week 2018 opens for applications to New York meeting. Apply by August 12, 2018.

ILGA is looking for a Director of Programmes and an Administrative Support. Apply by 20 July 2018 and 16 July 2018.

Click here to access SPW’s website

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